Windows 11 version 22H2: game changes

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In part six of the series, we take a look at improvements for players and games in the upcoming Windows 11 2022 Update.

When Microsoft launched the original version of Windows 11 last year, it promoted the operating system as the best Windows system for gaming. The statement wasn’t just marketing, as Microsoft introduced new gaming-related features in Windows 11.

In particular, Microsoft has added support for Auto HDR and the DirectStorage API. Auto HDR is designed to enable HDR in games that don’t support it. The technology requires an HDR-capable display.

DirectStorage was originally introduced on Xbox and later ported to Windows 11. It promises to improve game loading, but only on devices with fast NVMe drives. Microsoft also announced DirectStorage for Windows 10, so no OS exclusivity.

Ashwin ran gaming benchmarks on Windows 10 and 11 and concluded that performance was very similar on both systems.

Press? Here are the main changes:

  • Variable Refresh Rate (VRR) is available system-wide.
  • New optimizations for the windowed games feature.
  • New HDR Calibration Windows app.
  • New Xbox controller bar.

Variable Refresh Rate (VRR)

Windows 11 VRR

Variable refresh rate for all apps and games is another improvement over the launch version of Windows 11. This is another graphics-related setting that can be enabled or disabled by the user of the system.

When enabled, Variable Refresh Rate aims to improve frame rates and reduce screen tearing in games and apps that don’t support the feature by default.

Windows 11 gamers find the new feature under Settings > System > Display > Graphics > Default graphics settings.

Enabling or disabling variable refresh rate and optimizations for windowed games requires a restart of games or applications that are already open.

Optimizations for windowed games

Windows 11 optimized for windowed games

One of the main new features in Windows 11 version 22H2 is the new windowed game optimization feature. It is disabled by default because there may be side effects, but games may want to play with the setting to find out if it improves some of the games on Windows 11 system.

Windowed Game Optimizations brings the game optimizations introduced in DirectX 12 to games that run in windowed or borderless mode and use DirectX 11 or DirectX 10.

The mode can improve latency in games that benefit from optimizations, and it unlocks auto HDR for games running in windowed mode.

The aforementioned downside is that it can lead to screen tearing in some games. Microsoft suggests matching the game frame rate to the screen refresh rate or enabling V-Sync to avoid this.

The feature is somewhat hidden in the settings. It’s unclear if Microsoft plans to promote it one way or another once the Windows 11 2022 Update officially rolls out; otherwise, most Windows gamers may never experience this feature.

graphics preferences

To configure the feature, follow these steps:

  1. Select Start > Settings to open the Settings application. You can also use Windows-I to open it.
  2. Go to System > Display > Graphics.
  3. Select “Change default graphics settings”.
  4. Toggle optimizations for windowed games to enable or disable the feature.

Note that it is also possible to disable the feature for specific apps and programs. This is done under System > Display > Graphics by selecting an app or game from the list and then the option “do not use optimizations for windowed games”.

hdr windows 11

Microsoft plans to release a new Windows HDR Calibration app. It is not included in the 22H2 version of Windows 11, but must be downloaded from the Microsoft Store once it is released.

Microsoft announced the app in February 2022, stating that it had decided to bring the Xbox HDR Game Calibration app to Windows. The app is designed to calibrate HDR to improve the “color accuracy and consistency” of HDR displays.

Some HDR-capable displays may experience clipping under certain conditions, according to Microsoft.

The Windows app offers three test patterns to improve the HDR experience. The tests are recommendations from the HDR Gaming Interest Group to improve the HDR gaming experience.

  • Determine the darkest visible detail.
  • Determine the brightest visible detail.
  • Determine the brightness of the screen.

Microsoft has not announced a release date for the Windows HDR Calibration app at the time of writing. The settings will be available under Settings > System > Display > HDR on compatible devices.

Xbox controller bar

Like the aforementioned Windows HDR Calibration app, the new Controller Bar isn’t specifically tied to the upcoming Windows 11 feature update.

The Control Bar has been in testing for some time as part of the System Game Bar. It provides quick access to certain games on the system that have been played recently.

Windows 11 users who use Xbox Game Bar on the device can use the new feature to quickly launch the last three games played on the device. Last month, Microsoft teased that it added support for launching cloud streaming games directly from the control bar on Windows 11 devices.

Selecting any of the cloud games launches the Xbox app where users need to activate the Play button to get started. It’s unclear why Microsoft hasn’t added a direct play option to the Controller Bar for these games.

Closing words

Microsoft is making incremental improvements for gamers in the upcoming Windows 11 feature update. Whether games will benefit depends on the gaming hardware and the games played on the devices.

Some of the features are already available under certain conditions, for example, when playing DirectX 12 games on the Windows 11 PC. Other features are hardware dependent; the Auto HDR or Windows HDR Calibration app only works if an HDR display is available.

Most gamers won’t notice a difference between games on Windows 10 and Windows 11 devices, even with upcoming feature updates installed. Windows 11 may have the advantage if an HDR display and a fast NVMe storage device are used, but how many gamers have these setups?

Now you: Do you play games on your PCs?

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Windows 11 version 22H2: game changes

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Windows 11 version 22H2: game changes

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In part six of the series, we take a look at improvements for players and games in the upcoming Windows 11 2022 Update.

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Martin Brinkman

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Ghacks Technology News

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